The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 25, 2013

Passover celebration joins those of all faiths

Frank Sojak

JOHNSTOWN — The Beth Sholom Congregation on Monday invited people of all faiths to help them celebrate the beginning of Passover because it is the link that binds humanity.

About 90 people celebrated the beginning of Passover at the Westmont synagogue with a seder meal, a symbolic event that is used to retell the story of the Jewish holiday.

Passover marks God’s deliverance of the Jews from slavery in Egypt.

“We are thrilled and gratified to have so many neighbors here,” said Rabbi Irvin Brandwein, religious leader of the congregation.

“Passover is the central emblematic festival of the Jewish year,” he said.

“We mention it in prayers throughout the year.”

The congregation looks forward to Passover with members preparing spiritually and physically for observance by ridding their homes of unneeded items and by getting rid of emotional baggage that weighs them down and prevents the practicing of their faith, he said.

Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, president of the congregation, said everyone shares both a common past and destiny.

Just as the rabbi told the story of Passover through our ancestors by being liberated and crossing the Red Sea, we have the seder meal to do the same, Rosenberg said.

“We all cross the Red Sea together,” he said through the seder meal. “By observing the different rituals of the seder, we are imbued by the total aspect of the Passover.”

Ana Maria Strandquest, a member of Westmont Pres-byterian Church, believes Passover is an important holiday.

“This makes up our roots,” she said about the celebration. “This is the link.

“If we forget the past, we have no future. It is through the past that we learn to connect with our ancestors in our path to freedom.”

Lori Sheredy, a member of Beth Sholom, said Passover means freedom.

“It’s freedom for the Jews and my ancestors. It means there is hope.”


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